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Key matchup: Redskins QB Robert Griffin III vs. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell

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Posted Oct. 18, 2012 @ 11:47 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Redskins QB Robert Griffin III vs. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell

Defensive coordinators still don’t know how to defend Griffin. Most teams have opted to rush four and play zone behind it, afraid of having the defensive backs’ eyes anywhere but on the backfield. With that approach, the results have been mixed. Although Griffin has thrown two interceptions with only two TD passes in 126 attempts, he’s completing almost 70 percent of his passes, per STATS LLC.

On one of the few blitzes the Vikings sent at him last week, Griffin burned them with a 76-yard TD run. Overall on the season, Griffin has thrown the ball well, too, against five or more rushers: He has completed 17-of-24 passes with three TDs and no interceptions. Griffin’s poise in pressure situations has been obvious, and the only team to really rattle him was the Bengals in the first half when the Redskins had protection problems following the injury to OLT Trent Wiliams.

Griffin also has benefited from the running of fellow rookie, RB Alfred Morris. A no-nonsense, one-cut zone runner, Morris has consistently gotten what is blocked for him and put Griffin in great second- and third-down situations. So, even in a game in which WR Pierre Garcon (back) might not be able to go, the passing options look to be in decent shape with the play-action potential and the increased roles for TE Fred Davis and WR Santana Moss of late.

The Giants showed last week that they still can pressure and cover, sacking the 49ers’ quarterbacks six times (including mobile "Wildcat" QB Colin Kaepernick twice) and collecting three interceptions. Both had come into question previously. And the fact that the Giants have defended two athletic quarterbacks, Carolina’s Cam Newton and Philadelphia’s Michael Vick, probably helps when coordinator Perry Fewell comes up with his game plan.

New York, too, is likely to rush four a lot of the time. But don’t be shocked if the Giants use more zone pressures than normal in an effort to confuse Griffin and eliminate some of his hot routes. The Giants mixed up their pressure packages last week, rotating in Marvin Austin and Adrien Tracy and moving Mathias Kiwanuka around effectively, and more as an end than as a linebacker. Those versatile players, along with star DEs Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul, should create some mismatches up front and help pressure the rookie.

The Redskins run lots of rollouts, bootlegs and waggles and love to get Griffin in space. But they are far from afraid to go into a rhythm passing game and use three- and five-step drops. The play-calling, for the most part, has been very good — and unpredictable at times, too. The Giants will try to fool Griffin, but it’s hard not to be a little bit on your heels defensively with such an athletic QB. They also don’t want to get too cute defensively and get away from what they do best — which is pressure with the front four and not resort to wanton blitzing.

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